Fayette parents create concise school finance primer

I have been impressed with the parental responses to budget cuts in every metro county. Here is a good school finance primer sent to me by the Fayette Citizens for Children. The county boasts some of the best schools in Georgia and a dedicated parent base that wants to keep it that way.

While this Q&A is local to Fayette in some instances, it has information relevant to all systems and parents that I felt was worth sharing:

What is QBE?

In a nutshell the Quality Basic Education Act (QBE) is an act that states that the formula by which the State of Georgia requires the provision of Basic Quality Education has NEVER been fully funded, though it’s supposed to be.  This is a complex formula that requires school systems to provide basic education, such as reading, writing, math and science, etc.  For the provision of these subjects, and based upon the number of students a system has, and weighting those students dependent upon certain criteria such as special education assistance, a dollar amount is supposed to be provided by the State.  Any additional bells and whistles that a system wants to provide, like art, music, band etc….is up to each individual system to provide funding for.  Since the QBE formula has never been fully funded, (lacking $42 million for the last 8 years)  some legislators are trying to enact the following Article to that Code:

Is the State of Georgia required to fully fund education? Our emphasis added.

From QBE legislation below:

To amend Article 6 of Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to the “Quality Basic Education Act,” so as to require that the Quality Basic Education Formula is fully funded by the General Assembly; to revise provisions for purposes of conformity; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

You can see the QBE bill here

You can see a research summary of QBE and funding our schools here:

How much has Georgia not funded Fayette County’s QBE allocation?

During the past 8 years, Fayette County has not received $42 million dollars it earned under QBE.

How much is Georgia expected to take from Fayette County this coming year?

Rumors are that the state funding cut may exceed $15M which is over 33% of the past 8 years combined. Fortunately, our school board is projecting a $12MM surplus due to cost cuts, teacher sacrifices, and purchases from the general fund transferred to the e-SPLOST

I received a letter that said Georgia spending on K-12 education has gone from $5.2 Billion in 2001 to $7 Billion in 2010 is that true?

Because this information came from a state legislator, we are willing to stipulate to his figures, however this is only part of the story. Due to inflation, to pay the same amount of money in FY2010 dollars that we spent in FY2001, this amount would need to be $6.4 Billion based on an average of Internet inflation calculators. Therefore, of the $1.8 Billion dollar increase the legislator cites, two thirds or $1.2 Billion is due to inflation.

Is it true the State of Georgia pay scale for teachers has increased 32% from 2001 to 2010?

That is being researched. But it is very important to know that due to unfunded mandates from the state, a great portion of this amount is dictated by the state but paid by your property tax dollars.

Can Fayette County raise property taxes to offset some of the state cuts?

No. Georgia law caps school property taxes at 20 Mils. We are already there due to the underfunded QBE. If Georgia had paid the amounts required by law, we might have lower property taxes and would have a surplus fund.

Is it true Fayette County may have a property tax decrease in FY2011?

Yes. Due to our recently passed e-SPLOST, FCBOE is paying off some bonds early that will result in a ¾ mill or more decrease.

Can we use the e-SPLOST funds to cover the state funding cuts?

No. e-SPLOST is segregated for long-term hard assets such as schools, computers and buses. However, purchases paid for by the e-SPLOST in FY2010 resulted in almost $4 million dollars remaining in the general fund that would have otherwise been used to pay for these hard assets.

Where can I find a full analysis of the FY 2011 state budget for schools?

The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, a nonprofit, non-partisan think tank, has published a report.

Are there ways Georgia can raise the money?

The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute has published the an analysis on whether schools have to be cut.

17 comments Add your comment

Attentive Parent

March 25th, 2010
1:11 pm

GBPI may be nonpartisan technically but it certainly has an agenda.

Self Sufficiency Standard should be about individuals, not government’s responsibility.

Maureen,

Is Fayette one of the counties that has part of its millage taken for redistribution elsewhere in the state?

Can we talk about which metro counties must send their tax dollars out of district and how much this amounts to in dollars?

Is it a percentage or flat # of mills?

If there’s an increase in the assessed millage in these districts do they get to keep all these incremental amounts raised in-district?

32%???

March 25th, 2010
1:28 pm

I can assure the public that THIS teacher’s salary has not increased 32% in the past ten years. Any other teachers out there want to chime in?

HS Teacher, Too

March 25th, 2010
1:33 pm

Ah, be careful 32%???. Although I agree with you wholeheartedly, if you pick any old teacher who might have earned advanced degrees in the past decade, and compare their base salary ten years ago to their new salary, which incorporates both increased degree level and years-in-service jumps, you may be able to show teachers earning outrageous increases.

It’s all a numbers game, and we can be certain that there are people who will not be fair in how they manipulate the numbers, nevermind how they present them!

catlady

March 25th, 2010
1:38 pm

Could the AJC publish a county by county list of how much each has to give (or gets from) the Fair Share program, where “rich” counties contribute to “poor” counties? My county is “rich”, yet 70% of the kids are on free lunch. Please include how much each receiving and sending counties tax for schools.

[...] Original post by Maureen Downey [...]

Cobb Parent

March 25th, 2010
2:16 pm

I don’t agree one bit with the FCC. It’s a zero-sum game. The money they get is taken from other counties. Cobb has around $100 million taken out of our budgets every year to go to what I thought were “rural” QBE eligible districts. This redistribution, if eliminated, would solve our deficit problem and spare 100,000+ students larger class sizes, cut bus stops, teacher furloughs, etc.

Fayette, I’m sure most people would agree, is more than capable of funding their schools. Their advocacy of increasing the redistributions is unacceptable and any level. In fact, we should be doing the opposite and doing away with redistributions because counties on the giving end don’t have the money in the first place.

[...] Read more from the original source:  Fayette parents create concise school finance primer | Get Schooled [...]

[...] link: Fayette parents create concise school finance primer | Get Schooled Share and [...]

Dan

March 25th, 2010
2:47 pm

What does “fully funded” mean?
Typically in gov parlance it means someone received what they asked for. ie if in year one an approved budget was $1M and in year 2 they asked for $3M and were granted $2M they could still claim being underfunded despite the 100% increase.
Calling something underfunded without defining the terms and conditions of said funding yields the statement meaningless

Dan

March 25th, 2010
2:56 pm

the 32% increase is not terribly outrageous, comes to about 3.5% per year, better than most but not out of line.

Sid

March 25th, 2010
2:58 pm

When the obituary on Georgia’s Educational system, it will have died due to gross mismanagement and the unwillingness or inability of the teachers to stand up for themselves. At some point, they need a collective voice that actually means something.

Until then, the Lemmings will be led to the slaughter.

justthefacts

March 25th, 2010
3:53 pm

The Self-Sufficiency Standard IS what it costs an average working class family to be self-sufficient, to take care of its basic needs without having government assistance. And it doesn’t account for savings for college or other things one would need to be middle-class and not risk falling into poverty.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Neil Sullivan, Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: Fayette parents create concise school finance primer http://bit.ly/bLJaE6 [...]

Tony

March 25th, 2010
9:19 pm

Y’all – the local fair share and all other qbe information is available from the state doe web-site. The qbe reports are quite detailed, but if you have a knack for numbers, you’ll figure them out easily enough. I’ve posted the link for this info before, but here it is again: http://portal.doe.k12.ga.us

click “financial reports” then click “qbe reports” from there you can get county by county and year by year reports.

About the 32% increase, I can assure you that teachers have not received raises of 3.5% each year since 2001. We have gone at least two years with no raise and one year with pay cuts. Another slight of hand when comparing 2010 to 2001 numbers was the omission of the increased enrollment since 2001. Believe it or not, it costs more money to teach more children. Since 2001, class sizes decreased meaning we had to hire more teachers. Guess who made that possible? The state legislature! They enacted a law called A+ reform several years ago that required the reduction of class sizes. Now that the costs of that move are too far out of reach, they are obfuscating the reality of who caused the increase! Can you believe our legislators would tell such tales?

vt

March 26th, 2010
3:25 pm

http://www.thecitizen.com/articles/03-23-2010/school-board-members-smith-smola-charge-local-funds-are-being-siphoned

Lest this article present an overly rosy picture of the Fayette County school system, please check out the above link. It consists of a couple of school board members suggesting others might be to blame for their idiotic decisions and fiscal mismanagement such as building unneeded schools.

Fayette County parents are totally ticked at the current school board – hence the CYA primer by this organization that seems to surface primarily on the Free Speech section of The Citizen. Our wonderful teachers are disheartened and stressed – which is getting communicated non-verbally to even the youngest students. Programs are getting amputated, money is short, and more furlough days are being spoken of. In short, the county is in the same money woes as a lot of Georgia counties. So what about the surplus? Yeah, a few months ago, we had a shortfall…who knows what the abacus will say in May.

What really is shameful no matter what county you’re in is that the legislature is trying to gut education and healthcare rather than the pet pork projects like Sonny’s fish farm up in North Georgia. That is what we all need to be discussing with “our” elected officials. The least able to suffer are the first to be getting cut, and that is a doggone shame.

sez who

March 28th, 2010
2:56 pm

32% increase (true or not) over 10 years means little when teachers are paid at such a low pay rate from the start!

ultrasound technician

April 15th, 2010
8:44 pm

What a great resource!